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« A discrepancy | Main | AR5 inquiry - written evidence »

Tax-funded recessionmongers

The Tyndall Centre's Radical Emissions Reduction conference has garnered quite a lot of attention in recent days, and I'm pleased to say that slides and audio of the presentations are now available.

When watching these, it's important to remember that these lunatics are paid for out of your taxes. Such a thing is barely comprehensible in times of plenty, but when the public finances are in the appalling state they are, when people everywhere are struggling to pay their bills, when we are in danger of the lights going out, it seems almost criminal for the government to be paying for a bunch of unreconstructed teen revolutionaries to fly from all corners of the globe to talk about how to make things worse.

And I'm not being sarcastic here. These people want permanent recession.

What is David Willetts thinking of when he lets this situation continue? Does he think this is an acceptable use of taxpayers' money? Does he want the Conservative vote to migrate en masse to UKIP?

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Reader Comments (31)

David Williams might not want UKIP but I do for next year in the EU elections. A massive showing for UKIP would put fear into the establishment for the year to the next general election. We might then get some change in this stupid energy policy.

Dec 19, 2013 at 9:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Whale

We have to think and act for the sake of future generations that are not going exist?

Dec 19, 2013 at 9:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterJon

The nitpicker in me notes that this is not at all about recession (the downward part of the business cycle) but rather about depression (a sustained, long-term economic downturn).

Dec 19, 2013 at 10:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Tol

So would it be OK for universities to be funded through taxes if those working in them held views that accorded with those of Bishop Hill?

Dec 19, 2013 at 10:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

@ RichieRich

It is perfectly OK for universities to be publicly funded as long as they do not act as national parks for the preservation of politically correct lefties - something that some universities, like the BBC, are in danger of becoming. The appalling but entirely predictable action of Universities UK in endorsing sex segregation to appease Islamic fundamentalists, is an example of this. The fact that they immediately dropped that policy after criticism from the government, which controls their purse strings, only shows that the cowardice of many vice chancellors matches their political correctness.

Dec 19, 2013 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

Just watched Corinne Le Quere from the UEA.

Cloud Cuckoo Land doesn't begin to describe it. They really do live in an alternate world where their unverified models are reality and their 100 year projections are about to come to pass.

(To be fair she does at least attempt to explain the latest flat temperature record and mentions a 20% reduction in TCR as a possible cause.)

Dec 19, 2013 at 10:22 AM | Registered CommenterSimonW

Re: RichieRich

I don't care what political views Universities have provided that:

1) They do not push those views onto students.
2) They do not make having those views a pre-requisite of passing an exam.
3) They do not use public funds to push a political any agenda.

Universities are funded to provide an education and to perform research.

Dec 19, 2013 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTerryS

Perhaps you should send the files to David Willetts. They might enlighten him a little.

It sad and frightening that these people are involved in education.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterSchrodinger's Cat

Have you passed this on to Matthew Sinclair at the Tax Payers' Alliance or Tim Montgomerie at the Times? They seem to have the ear of government, and perhaps they can also remind Messrs Shapps and Osborne that governments who are in power when there is a recession get thrown out, whether they think it is their fault or not, and whether or not their opponents have any clue what they are doing.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:10 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

@ Roy

It is perfectly OK for universities to be publicly funded as long as they do not act as national parks for the preservation of politically correct lefties - something that some universities, like the BBC, are in danger of becoming.

Whilst it may be so that universities are (becoming) enclaves for PC lefties, I really can't see a piece of legislation being passed that withdraws their public funding once the percentage of PC lefties passes a certain threshold!

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

I see this as a bunch of lefties having come dangerously close to the truth for their own good.

Nothing will happen unless 'radical' 'emission' cuts are made. Yes. We all know that. Which is why we -don't- want such things done.

Wake up, radicals. You are one step away from realising it. Carbon is life, literally. You cannot cut too close without cutting life itself.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:40 AM | Registered Commentershub


Think and act for future generations that will not exist????????????????

If they are not going to exist why think for them?

We have to think about those who do exist by ensuring that civilization continues to improve and reducing energy usage will not achieve that aim. There is a glut of fossil fuels available and their use does not ruin the planet.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Marshall

China ossified for the best part of a thousand years under an all powerful Mandarin autocracy. I'm becoming afraid that we have already started on the same journey. Why should the NHS, our Universities and Schools be state run & owned? Run as monolithic entities with no regard for reality? There is no meaningful public discussion about Climate change in the UK. The House of Commons has just passed the new Climate Change Act almost unanimously. Everyone, including old friends of mine with a PhD in Physics, seems to accept the Climatology position without question. Once we drift away from empirical science & start interfering with the market NOTHING becomes too stupid. Biofuels, Windmills, burning wood chips in power stations sitting on top of massive coal fields, Nuclear Power plants providing power at several times the market rate for almost a century hence.... The advent of Abbott in Australia is a welcome relief. How do we get a similar result in the UK? I don't want to wait until the lights do actually go out.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohnOfEnfield

Sadly, I have long suspected that the answer to My Lord Bishop's question is yes, Willetts is one of those TINOs who, on balance, would far rather the type of person who might be tempted to vote UKIP went off and did it. They hold traditional conservatives in contempt and regard Jeffersonian, libertarian-inclined, thinkers as dangerous maniacs.

As for RichieRich, surely his use of the present tense is quite incorrect? Our universities are not 'becoming enclaves for PC lefties' - they had already become that by the 1960's - at which time a potential historian could be told (at Cambridge) that the subject required the acceptance of the Marxist theory of history and that failure to swallow such nonsense whole would guarantee failure. Though I suspect he already knows this and wishes to pretend otherwise.

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterUncle Badger

FWIW (probably very little), I've just missed my train in order to write the following to my MP:

"Dear (MP),

I note that you 'voted very strongly' for legislation to 'stop climate change' (source - They work for you website). Consensus is rarely a good thing in science, but in any case, it is increasingly clear that claims of a scientific consensus on climate change are spurious at best and that the science is far from settled (earth's sensitivity to CO2 has been consistently over-estimated by IPCC; Global Climate Models can't account for a 16 year lack of warming; IPCC's 5AR Summary for Policy Makers doesn't reflect the AR itself in key areas, which has rowed back from claims of 'catastrophe'; 'climategate' e-mails clearly show a cadre of politicised scientists driving a story on the hoof; etc.)

It is a shame that there is little real chance for the public to become conscientious objectors to the staggering cost of the Climate Change Act (CCA) when only three MP's voted against it. Opinion polls show the public do not swallow climate change alarmism so readily as their elected representatives. It comes as little surprise to read of the long pockets of many who have stewardship of the CCA in Parliament (as detailed by David Rose at the weekend). The CCA has never been properly debated and yet those who take the time to step outside the envelope of the 'consensus' can drive a coach and horses through its scientific foundations, its intended outcomes and its affordability.

It illustrates perfectly how unrepresentative Parliament has become. It is sickening to see the lack of differentiation between the Party leaders, for example. This lack of differentiation holds true across many areas of policy, but it is particularly evident in the climate change arena, where a global dialogue drifts further from reality with every passing day. For a publicly-funded and very typical example of this, have a look at:

May I state that I do not see myself as a nutcase, railing against the writing on the wall. I am a 51-year old former Army officer appalled at the state of public finances, national energy policy and the on-going politicisation of our major institutions. I am disturbed by the impact that the EU has on national life (especially around renewable energy targets and the £180 billion ring-fenced to 'fight climate change'). Let's be clear - few people in this country can name even a single EU representative.

In these straitened times, politicians of every rank and persuasion should be determined to bring all areas of policy under proper scrutiny and challenge. Good decisions require a breadth of ideas and clear-sightedness to balance differing views. This was not the case with the CCA and it is not the case with energy policy.

It would be great to see you being more active in Parliament to broaden the debate on climate change. If back-benchers can't or won't act to break the cycle of lobbying and vested interest working to promote an evident non-issue, the drift towards UKIP can only accelerate - or indeed anyone else with even an outside chance of breaking the status quo.

Yours sincerely,


Dec 19, 2013 at 11:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Forge

The best hope for future generations is that if this generation is allowed to make itself as rich as possible.

Dec 19, 2013 at 12:06 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

They never consider the possibility that their proposed cure is worse than the putative disease.

Dec 19, 2013 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

Good letter, Old Forge - sadly I fear that the response (assuming you get one) will be along the lines of:
'Thank you for your views, which I have duly noted. However we must press ahead with renewables because it seems like a jolly good idea.'

Dec 19, 2013 at 1:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterSherlock1

Some of the loopier presentations here.

Dec 19, 2013 at 1:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

"Does he want the Conservative vote to migrate en masse to UKIP?"

UKIP is the only party with a sensible approach to energy and climate matters, which is what attracted me to them in the first place. That, and the fact that Tim Yeo is the local MP. A huge political incentive to change.

Dec 19, 2013 at 1:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteven Whalley

Dec 19, 2013 at 11:17 AM | RichieRich

The bottom line must be that those in Universities can think what they like, as long as they don't break the law, don't allow their beliefs to contradict the scientific method, and don't engage in inappropriate lobbying within which they imply that those beliefs are supported by hard knowledge when in truth they are not. There is evidence that a number of organisations and individuals are crossing these boundaries, e.g. FOI law and inappropriate interests, plus motivated reasoning and confirmation bias that have indeed allowed beliefs to compromise science.

Dec 19, 2013 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAndy West

Next July the Tyndall Centre and UEA are co-hosting another left wing conference, "Earth System Governance".

The specific theme is "Access and Allocation of Resources (Water, Food, Energy, Health and Wellbeing, Forests and Carbon Rights)", which the Earth System Governance website describes as dealing with with "justice, equity, and fairness."

I am not sure where in the Tyndall remit it says they can get involved in political matters of this sort, or promoting supranational governance.

Dec 19, 2013 at 3:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterPaul Homewood

Thanks for shining a light on these people PaulH and others or we wouldn't know they exist.

Tyndall Centre

Surely even exponents of Big Government don't think we should be spending cash on this stuff in a time of supposed austerity do they?

There'd be a big red line through the whole organisation if I wielded the pen. Bonfire of the Quangoes...pah.

(loads of other interesting stuff on your blog too...good man)

Dec 19, 2013 at 4:01 PM | Registered CommenterSimonW

I work in a university, I am not left wing, nor do I believe that climate change is a threat.

However I recognise that I am in a (fairly small) minority.

Dec 19, 2013 at 4:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterDon Keiller

Dec 19, 2013 at 3:33 PM | Paul Homewood

The Tyndall Centre's vison/purpose of conducting integrated research from a trans-disciplinary perspective well qualifies it to discuss matters of justice. And a wish to discuss justice does not necessarily make one left-wing. Justice is something that all right-minded people favour. It's just they differ (markedly) as to what constitutes justice! That is, it's an essentially contested concept.

Dec 19, 2013 at 4:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichieRich

Battle for the EU elections will be joined early in the new year with Nigel Farage and UKIP having been dealt a hand full of aces.
No longer seen now as a single issue party, AGW and its concomitant expense will resonate well with a disgruntled electorate picking up its enhanced winter bills courtesy of the other three guilty parties, all of whom cry crocodile tears over the cost of living.
The travesty of democracy that the EU elections represent are a good moment to serve notice on Westminster; the iron heel of Brussels will press no more nor less upon our necks than before, whatever the result.
UK politics however would be a different matter in the run up to 2015.
Let's make the pigs squeal!

Dec 19, 2013 at 4:47 PM | Unregistered Commenterroger

Paul Homewood on "Earth System Governance."
This urge for redistribution of people to a common denominator forgets that there was a time back in history when people from all around were about equal.
If one unit, like a Nation, dragged itself up higher than the rest, that does not mean that it should now be cut down.
When you think about this, you have to conclude that the motivation for people like these Tyndall speakers is simple. They feel that they have dragged themselves up above the rest of the unwashed and boy! are they going to work hard for a permanent place in history!!!
They want to give themselves privilege while denying it to others.
How shallow can they get?

Dec 20, 2013 at 4:53 AM | Unregistered CommenterGeoff Sherrington

Are there any left wingers who do jobs that actually matter? I suppose there must be...

Dec 20, 2013 at 6:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterJimmy Haigh

As Shub said, the participants at the Radical Emissions Reduction Conference are at least facing up to the implications of what the UK government itself signed up to in the Climate Change Act, a cut in CO2 emissions to just 20 percent of 1990 levels by 2050 (that is, the amount of CO2 per person that the UK last emitted in about 1750).

Getting the enormity of that task across to policymakers might be not a bad use of taxpayers’ money.

Dec 20, 2013 at 8:23 AM | Registered CommenterRuth Dixon

Ruth Dixon - Dec 20, 2013 at 8:23 AM

have always wondered why a town/village has not been set up & used as an example/experiment of how easy it is to move to a low carbon based fuel economy & only survive on renewables (has this taken place in the UK or anywhere, greenvillage etc ?)

Dec 20, 2013 at 10:13 PM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Is there a gap in my knowledge?
In the audio/slide presentation at about 2:00 minutes it is stated that "we don't have an analogue for +4/5degree warming but there is an equivalent of 5 degrees of change and that is analogue of 5 degree cooling" so cooling is the same as warming?
Let me see a plus times a minus is a …......minus, a minus times a plus is .... Help this always confused me.

Dec 20, 2013 at 11:07 PM | Unregistered Commenternick

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